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College Football Betting: Under-the-Radar Bowl Plays (12/31)

by December 29, 2020

The college football season moves into the bowl season. One bowl, the Music City Bowl between Iowa and Missouri, was canceled due to a COVID-19 issue with Missouri. However, there are still several other under-the-radar bowls to consider, while college football anticipates the playoff semifinals with Alabama versus Notre Dame and Clemson versus Ohio State on Friday.

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Armed Forces Bowl

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (-2.5) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

This is a game between a 6-2 Tulsa team and a 3-7 Mississippi State team. The reality of the pandemic has created a situation in which a lot of teams that ordinarily would have participated in bowls have instead opted out, due to emotional exhaustion on the part of players who want to go home for the holidays and see their families. Playing a lower-level bowl game just isn’t worth it for those players. Since the bowl games still need to have teams – at least for the bowls which haven’t decided to cancel due to COVID-19 – there are going to be teams with losing records. The schools involved in college football allowed teams with losing records to be eligible for bowls this year; normal requirements were waived due to the pandemic. In steps Mississippi State, which played a great Week 1 game at LSU, a great final game against Missouri, and was terrible in the eight games in between. MSU’s offense faces tough sledding against a Tulsa defense that was one of the best in the nation this year. Zaven Collins, one of the very best linebackers in the country, gives Tulsa an excellent chance of being able to shut down Mississippi State and win.

Pick: Tulsa -2.5

Liberty Bowl

West Virginia Mountaineers (-7) vs. Army Black Knights

This is a game that was originally supposed to feature West Virginia and Tennessee, but the Vols came down with COVID-19 complications, so Army took Tennessee’s place. Army is 9-2 and the owner of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for beating the two other service academies, Air Force and Navy, the past two weeks. Army allowed a grand total of 10 points in those two games. What was more impressive than Army being so stingy is that the Black Knights needed every defensive stop in those two wins, except for Navy’s final two drives. Army played very close games and had very little margin for error since its offense scored just 13 points against Navy and only 10 versus Air Force. The defense made those small point totals stand up, part of a great season for coach Jeff Monken’s team. West Virginia, at 5-4, is an average team. Army might not win against a Power Five opponent, but the Black Knights certainly figure to play well on defense and keep this game very close throughout.

Pick: Army +7

Texas Bowl

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. TCU Horned Frogs (-4.5)

The Arkansas Razorbacks are another bowl team with a losing record. Arkansas is 3-7 and would normally be sitting home, but the Hogs were given an invitation to the Texas Bowl under these unusual pandemic circumstances. Arkansas actually played really well early in the season. The Razorbacks were wronged on a bad call late in a controversial loss to Auburn. As the season went on, however, Arkansas’ good start faded away. A lack of depth and the youth of an unproven roster caught up with this team, which is still building for the future under first-year coach Sam Pittman. A bowl game could be just the tonic Arkansas needs against a TCU team whose offense has been very inconsistent all year, chiefly because of poor offensive line play. TCU might win, but Arkansas figures to keep this game very close.

Pick: Arkansas +4.5

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